25 ASSOCIATION RARITIES FROM THE COLLECTIONS OF Jim McCrary and Ken Mikolowski!
When planning the Third Mind Books July Monthly Special, Arthur & I thought it might be fitting to do a “McC-rarities” Part II—to feature more of the incredible William S. Burroughs inventory we obtained directly from Jim McCrary, a key associate of WSB during his final years. Then, I thought of incorporating a different kind of “Mik-rarity”—
selections from the legendary cache of relics we obtained from poet, publisher, and celebrated professor Ken Mikolowski, co-founder of Detroit’s visionary Alternative Press, publishers & friends of many Beat Generation, ”New York School,” and “Black Mountain”-related authors. Enjoy these ASSOCIATION RARITIES, all 10% off for the month of July only!
With June now behind us and an easy 4 to 5 decades removed from many of the most seminal events in music and literary history, commemorative “anniversaries” are appearing with such rapidity that it’s almost challenging to really appreciate or comprehend them all. We enjoyed the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band last month, and are now thick in the middle of the 50th anniversary of the “Summer of Love,” a name that June-through-August 1967 will forever be crystalized in time with.
Curating the new Frank O’Hara offerings—coupled with my own recently-amplified enthusiasm with Art History and some new projects springing therefrom—has me contemplating poet Charles Baudelaire’s theory of the interrelation of poetry, art, and music. In truth, I felt that way before I even knew who Baudelaire was. You take a poet like Frank O’Hara—he was deeply involved in the visual arts, and their benefit on him was obvious. Most are aware of his storied tenure working at the Museum of Modern Art, where on lunch he composed many of the poems interred in his final widely-distributed volume, Lunch Poems (a small collection of Frank’s was published by Tibor De Nagy following Lunch Poems, but had nowhere near as wide a circulation). O’Hara, like his celebrated contemporary, John Ashbery, wrote about art successfully. “Successfully” for them, meant that it made them some money to live on, and it actually did sway public and private opinion in a historically-evident way. Frank was also loved by the painters he wrote about, and loved by almost everyone who met him. The painter Helen Frankenthaler’s party invitations often bore the promise: “Frank will be there!” There was a confluence; there was a mutual appreciation, there was a visionary belief between them about the worth of their work. They knew they were of greater strength together, and naturally—as they were all vocationally-driven intellectuals who were serious about their contribution to art—liked each other, for the most part. The story of art and literature has always been rancid with spats and quarrels, and O’Hara & friends were not stainless or saint-like in this regard. Yet, the New York of O’Hara’s day also seemed synonymous with his inclusive spirit, and the sheer volume of collaborative activity that regularly spanned genres and temperaments seems testament to that.
Then you take Ginsberg, fortified by what he saw in Cezanne, who used his distillations to alter the construction of his poetry completely. Ginsberg knew O’Hara, and as Ginsberg relates in his all-important Paris Review Interview, partly because of that connection was he able to get into the MoMa after hours to see the Cezannes they had stored in the basement, the canvases that weren’t on-view. Before Ginsberg, you have Hemingway who also—yet far more cryptically than Ginsberg—went on record to testify to Cezanne’s influence on his writing, how he influenced his ability to see. Then, the museum itself serves as a church of-sorts, an establishment whose pretense is veneration, reverence, & respect for the achievements displayed. Museums are playgrounds for the “cultured” and Ginsberg, O’Hara, and so many other poets and writers have benefitted greatly from immersing themselves in the history of the visual arts, the biography of the poet’s painter(s) of interest, and ultimately the fortification of paradigm that came with studying the minds of some of the most important artists yet to grace Spaceship Earth.
A book I’ve been returning to lately is Matisse on Art, a book of written statements, interviews of Matisse, etc. compiled by Jack Flam. The interviews span roughly 5 of Matisse’s 6-decade career, from the Fauve period to the cut-outs. One of many notable passages in that tome reads like this: “The role of the artist, like that of the scholar, consists of seizing current truths often repeated to him, but which will take on new meaning for him and which he will make his own when he has grasped their deepest significance.” So, there are those among us that are artists, as this writer will indulge himself as being—yet of our concern here at Third Mind Books is his following bit: “…like that of the scholar…” As we continue to craft the Third Mind Books Presentation for the 2017 European Beat Studies Network Conference, Matisse’s statement rings a particular relevance in regard to our recent activity. This is something I think as scholars we all internally realize, as in the process of becoming scholars we are “signaled through the flames,” as Lawrence Ferlinghetti says, and are consumed by and imbued with the fire that forged their spirit, the spirit that drove them to dream and achieve. The scholar must apprehend the mind of their subject as best they can in order to give it accurate representation, in order to make them feel “…as full of life as life was full, of them” in our papers, our studies, our books.
So, let’s remember Matisse’s sage dictum as we travel onward in our individual & collective journeys in the Beat-&-Beyond community, and check out July’s unrivaled selection of ASSOCIATION RARITIES for a skull-slurp of bona-fide Beat-&-Beyond scholarship!
Until next time…
Third Mind Books